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Bangladesh to receive 78.4 mln USD from WB to expand solar home systems

DHAKA, June 30 (Xinhua) -- The Bangladeshi government Monday clinched a 78.4-million-U.S.-dollar additional financing deal to further scale up support for the country's solar home systems (SHS) program.

The credit for the additional financing to the Bangladesh Rural Electrification and Renewable Energy Development II (RERED II) Project is from the International Development Association (IDA), the World Bank Group's soft loan arm.

The project will help install an additional 480,000 solar home systems that have emerged as a viable electrification option for areas without grid access to electricity, said the World Bank.

Implemented as a public-private partnership, the SHS program is currently installing over 70,000 solar home systems every month, making it the fastest growing SHS program in the world, said the bank. In Bangladesh, 3 million systems have already been installed with support from the World Bank and other development partners.

Arastoo Khan, additional secretary of Bangladesh's Economic Relations Division, and Christine E. Kimes, acting head of World Bank Bangladesh, signed the agreement on behalf of their respective sides.

Currently, according to the World Bank, only 42 percent of the people in rural Bangladesh have access to electricity, and reliance on the grid alone will not achieve the government's vision of universal access by 2021.

Furthermore, it said the dispersed nature of rural settlements and the numerous rivers that crisscross the country make grid electrification in many areas difficult and expensive.

Off-grid renewable energy, like solar home system, has thus become the only option for electrification for millions living in the remote rural areas of Bangladesh, it added.

Building on the successful implementation of the predecessor RERED project approved in 2002, the World Bank said the RERED II project has so far provided clean energy access to over 414,000 households, benefiting over 2 million people through installation of solar home systems in remote villages.

Over 1,450 biogas plants and 40 solar irrigation pumps have already been supported under the project, it added.

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